Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Movie Screening: Children Of Heaven (continued...)

Movie Screening: Children of Heaven

My all-time favorite movie in foreign language, the Children of Heaven. It presented to me a metaphore of my family background, that is being born from the less privileged family --- which molded in me an supernatural kind of volition to aspire for a bountiful life for me and my family.

I am sharing this to all of you... Just please bear this message: "count your blessings"!

Monday, September 12, 2011

A day with the Kids

September 11, 2011 is a much-awaited day for me. It is not because it's the 10th year anniversary of 9/11 US NY twin tower-attack but because I will be spending a day with my nephews and nieces in Tacloban City.

One benefit of my work is that I can travel for free to Tacloban City due to the fact that the project I presently work with have areas around Samar and Leyte. This means that I can always drop by my elder brother Bobby's residence whenever I have official business in the region. What is exciting visiting his place are the kids, my nephews Keith Robert and Kim Herbert, and my nieces Ayssa Rosette and Dulce Paula. For more than a year now, I was not able to spend time with them since my last visit in 2009.

The kids have grown taller, Kuya Keith and Ate Ayssa now tower over me. And are now teenagers, both in their high school and they have grown really physically. Thus my chitchat with them was generally about school and their school performance. I am so proud to have seen in fact the good (i mean great) grades of Kuya Keith. He's in his second year and at section 1 at that; his 91.375 grade for the first grading period landed him at top 18 from among thousands of students in Leyte National High School. Ate Ayssa whose in her first high school year is also at section 1. I witnessed her group study conducted that day in their residence. I am so proud of my sibling's children that they are able to live up to our examples and expectations. It runs in the blood, really! My siblings and me have good records at school. I chuckled at this boastful thought.

We (Kuya Keith and I) already agreed on aspiring for UP Diliman, both UPCAT and scholarship. Same with Ate Ayssa so that they will then be my boarders, once Sis En will relocate to their new place.

I spent most of my time bonding with the little ones, Kuya Kim and Baby Pawpaw. Kuya Kim is at grade 1 this year. He's always at his best when we talk of computer games, video games, cellphone games, all about games. He does not need manuals to play them and even complete the whole levels up to the last credits. He even understand the upgraded BookWorm game version, only that he's premature for most of the needed words and word combinations to conquer the obtacles and level up. I believe he inherits that vigor from me. And I laughed loud at the thought.

Kim dragged me to the front of their desktop computer to illustrate to me the new computer games he studied and completed. He showed me his new addiction, the so-called "angry birds", which only then that I knew about. He even showed to me his collection of the angry birds which appeared to me like little toy marbles. Then, he exhibited in front of me that he can now read sentences. He further showed me his test papers with high scores; not really perfect unlike his Kuya Keith whose most test papers has perfect, if not almost perfect scores. And I thought of maximizing his potential in that sense: the sense of competitiveness, the sense of conquering and triumph... When I brought them to Robinsons Mall in Tacloban, Kim went directly to "angry birds" stuffed toys. He chose the black one, because according to him, it is the most powerful among all angry birds. Kuya Keith picked the red one (don't know if it's for him, but Kim's favorite color is red) and another yellow one for Pawpaw.

The youngest and the most enjoyable of all is of course the littlest one, Baby Pawpaw! She's the cutest baby in the world for us, she's the girliest child in the whole wide world for us. She has this signature of brushing her hair that crosses her face and she did it surreptitiously yet gracefully and gorgeously, like a fully grown lady. Her favorite color is yellow and she inherits that from me. And I laughed loud again. I may be the conceited uncle, but I am telling the truth!

she's proud and confident in dressing up girlishly

she presented me all her girly stuffs: umbrella, sandals, skirts

we did have an enjoyable reading, speech sessions

Baby Pawpaw collected all her properties that are gifts from us (from her Auntie En-En and I). She brought them all to me, the battery-operated pre-school tutorial toy, the pink barbie dolls in the box, the two alphabet and number puzzles, and the fairy tale book. So we have reading session, and what's impressive was that at about age two she can already pronounce four-syllabled word "strawberry". What's more entertaining is that she repeats the words I pronounced loudly when she's sure of her pronunciation, and whisper them when she's unsure in repeating them. It did tickle me superbly. Then we proceeded to photoshoot, i mean picture-taking. She was the photographer and I was the model. Once she positioned to take the shot, I did different poses with twisted face-makings, like pouting lips, inverted eyelids, or I put my hands over my face and taunt, stretch and twist my face skin. And you can hear her cry our her signature laughs. And much to her amusement, she patted my shoulder or kicked my feet sweetly and said "uncle ko!" T'was heaven!
she flipped this skirts ladylikely in front of me... she even turned around for me to check

and the exhibitions followed telling me that she's the next ballerina in the family (i was the first, LOL)

look at her posture while taking the call from her auntie en-en

her signature laugh when we tickle each other

and the sweetest of it all was when she told me "ayaw uli uncle..."

Then it occurred to her to present me her case; it seemed like she bore it for a long time. She told me about the toy car that she has been using all this time. It was a blue plastic toy car, big enough for a toddler to ride on. The case she presented was that it was her Kuya Kim's and therefore old. I can see that paints and skins have cracked. Another case she presented was that the forward wheels were broken and therefore she can no longer sit on it and push to drive. That instead she was now pushing the car in order to simply enjoy and play it. What more heart-breaking for me, and she looked so pitiful, when she turned the car upside down to present to me the real situation, the uselessness of keeping the car, which is like presenting an exhibit in a court hearing. And so I cried, and laughed out loud, "yes my darling, I understand your predicament; I got the case right. You won and I will buy you a new one!" Did you know what happened next? She rest her case knowing that she had won, parked her old car inside her siblings' room, and ate breakfast with me. T'was surreal!

And without second thought, as I brought them in the mall, I let her choose her new car... and here it is:

A day with the kids was the best day of my travel here in Leyte. I was so full of love from my cute little niece.

Thank you KALAHI-CIDSS Project of DSWD and MCC for a free trip here and spent a day with my nephews and nieces. I was really, truly entertained!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How can the Philippines become a tourism billionaire?

This is an open question in Yahoo forum. And since it interests me, I dare to answer. And my answer is that Philippines can never be!

hop on the white (naked) island in Camiguin
All tourists I rubbed elbows with during my foreign travels fear kidnappings in the Philippines (Abu Sayaff and/or NPAs). Unless we can promote our country refuting this concern and not just refuting but taking measures to address it, we can somehow attract them to visit us. Yes there are a couple of tourists coming in and out of our country but those are daring, open-minded, and adventurous.
walk barefooted around the white sanded Boracay Island

Furthermore, I noticed that our tourism industry way way lack the worldwide promotion. If we compare it with Malaysia's, we notice their promotions in all pay-(cable)channels are visible and ubiquitous. If ours is as this frequent, attractive and worldwidely, then all negative travel advisories against our country may be drowned by it, because tourists are born curious.
take a nice wacky pose at any chocolate hill/s in Carmen, Bohol

Finally, the accessibility of our airports; NAIA itself is not directly accessible and somewhat isolated from the central metropolis. Compare it with Singapore, Bangkok, Hongkong, KL, the airport transfers are organized, integrated, and safe.

Resolution of these three issues and concerns will somehow move our tourism forward near the top.
reflective of fisherfolks in Mulanay, Quezon

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

An incomplete guide to Filipino food terms

Reference: By Gilda Cordero-Fernando in Manila/Philippine Daily Inquirer ANN – Sun, Sep 4, 2011

This is an interesting read! I intend to share it directly but the url doesn't have direct linkage to any social networking or blogging sites. So I cut and paste the whole article to my blogspot. Enjoy reading...

Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - It has been claimed in scholarly papers on food that sinigang is the national dish of the Filipino, like the sampaguita is our national flower and the monkey-eating eagle is our signature bird, and therefore sinigang is known all over the Philippines.

In an extensive food research trip I made in 1990 (covering the Tagalog provinces as well as the Ilocos), it was interesting to note that sinigang, so much a part of Luzon's barrio cooking, is virtually unknown, at least in several municipalities of Ilocos Norte. What may pass off as sinigang could be what a restaurant cook learned during a vacation in Manila.

In the roadside eateries, sinigang was an unrecognizable concoction with carrots in a somewhat sour broth. Some had cabbage or potatoes floating in it. Abaws gid, lahing tinola!

Since I have low self-esteem, I ran to a Ph.D., Dr. Fernando "Butch" Zialcita, who had stayed in Ilocos for months on end on study grants. He had the same observation. No sinigang there!

What then is the "national" dish? Adobo? Adobo is known all over the islands, north to south. And if I go by another Ph.D's (Arsenio Manuel) study on folktales, anything that is widespread and has many, many versions (like the Monkey and the Turtle) must be an old, old thing. Food writer Nancy Reyes Lumen has found so many variations of adobo that she has been able to write a whole book on it.

But, nationalists cry, adobo is not indigenous-it was introduced by the Spaniards! Buti na lang I have enough doctor friends to run to even if they can't cure a single bukol! Hindi! said Dr. Ambeth Ocampo. The adobo has been with us even before the colonizers came.

Pinoy to the bone

"Adobar" in Spanish means, among other things, to marinate or pickle meat. When the Spanish came and tasted our food, they found meat pickled or stewed in vinegar and used their word for it-adobo. They did not ask or simply didn't bother to record its indigenous name. (If they did, they would have misspelled it anyway.) And so adobo it is-and Pinoy to the bone!

Well, it must be my bad planet day, because the other thing I want to complain about is the attempt to infuse the Japanese word umami, (meaning "a fresh delicious taste") into our culinary stream. As if it were a superior word. As if we didn't have our very own, very old, word for it-malinamnam! That's how Tagalog words are lost.
Other Filipino words can describe some tastes more accurately than English words, which need two or three to do the same. Among the following you will find some:

MAPAKLA-The taste of duhat and unripe fruit like bananas or guavas that make your mouth pucker. Some say it's "acrid" which means "a sharp and biting taste"-not what mapakla is! Another offers "tannic," which is just too esoteric to hunt.

MALINAMNAM is the taste of fresh, delicious food, (from "namnam"), flavorful, savory.

MANAMISNAMÍS is a mild sweet taste in very fresh seafoods like shrimps, crabs, oysters, clams. Try to find an exact English word for that!

MALABO is a texture on the tongue found in apple, mabolo, kamote, potato, chestnuts and certain breads.

MAASKAD is acidic, like the sourish, bitter taste of the peel of suha, dayap and orange.
I will not include in this list basic tastes like matamis, maalat, mapait, maanghang, etc. which are clear to Tagalog speakers, only the more difficult to describe. Here are some unpleasant tastes:

MAYAPA means tasteless and juiceless, as in certain meats or fish.

MAANGGO is cheesy or game-y, as in lamb or goat meat. A taste loved by some, detested by others.

KULASIM is the sweetish-sourish taste of overripe fruits, or milk beginning to curdle.

HALPOK or BILASÂ refers to fish that is not fresh and is beginning to rot.

NAKAKAUMAY or NAKAKASUYA is satiation from over-sweet or greasy comestibles. "Too sweet" is also NAKAKATUSING.

PUTAT is to counteract the above feeling by eating fruit or a sweet together with (not after) the meal such as banana, mango, pineapple, pastillas, etc. "Magputat ka hija, para di ka masuya."

Preserving food

BURO is preserving food with salt and water to last during the lean months. Familiar buro favorites are green mangoes, paho (aromatic mini-mangoes) and kamias. Burong mangga is called dalok, and its brine serves as a dipping sauce for fish.

By itself, the word buro also connotes fish salted and fermented with the addition of cooked rice or lugaw, which gives the buro its tang and high odor. The unique thing about buro is that the fish is the sauce of the same fish, so that burong dalag and burong hito are the sauce of roasted dalag and roasted hito. Shrimps, too, are fermented and become the lighter balaw-balaw, which is also the dipping sauce of boiled shrimps.

ANGKAK is the natural food coloring of buro that comes from a tree bark. It imparts a vile reddish-pink hue. Not all provinces use angkak, like Bulacan, that prefers its buro uncolored and lovingly nicknamed "sukang pusa."
BAGOONG. The Ilocano is a bagoong freak. To him, everything can be made into bagoong, and he loves making bagoong. (The classic proportion is three of fish and one of salt.) Most of the fish bagoong were invented by Ilocanos, but Pangasinan, which has more fish, became its commercial producer.

The most popular seafoods used for bagoong are:

Padas, which are little flat fish used as a sauce for neutral dishes like broiled and boiled fish;

Munamon or dilis (the anchovy bagoong), which is for dishes like the ubiquitous dinengdeng;

Miniature oysters or sisi;

A bigger oyster variety, locally called macabebe;

Ipon, the delicious fish fry of a mysterious species (some say it's bangus, others say it's the delicious ludong or mother carp, still others think it is actually tabios, the smallest fish in the world).


Ipon is so ambrosial that it has been compared to the baby eels or angulas of Spain. When the rainy season starts, the ipon proliferate. Banca after banca is filled with the catch.

Ipon has three to five stages of babyhood starting from less than an inch long and transparent, to slightly bigger and light gray, to dark gray to black. Then it swims out to heaven-knows-where and transforms into a fish by another name.

Ipon is mostly eaten fresh (raw), with ginger and vinegar; steamed in banana leaf; sauteed in tomatoes; cooked with broth. Leftover ipon is made into what is considered "the queen of bagoong."

Fish eggs, too, can be made into bagoong. One Ilocano housewife in Greenhills avers that fish liver and intestines, gathered painstakingly every time one cleans fish, and salted in a jar, makes a gem of a bagoong.

In Ilocos, patis is the premier by-product of bagoong. It is the precious liquid that floats on top when the fermented fish has settled properly and been aged for some time. It is very tasty, unlike commercial patis. Genuine Ilocanos don't buy patis; they skim the top of their bagoong jars.

In rural areas, this patis is skimmed off and set aside for visitors. The remaining bagoong is used for cooking, the sediment squeezed of every possible flavor and the dry fishbones at last given to the cat.

The Ilocano, whether society matron, attorney, antiques dealer or civil servant, could be a closet bagoong maker. One avid and indefatigable bagoong freak kept experimenting with black, gray, pink and reddish-brown bagoong in large burnay jars in his bathroom in New York. His refrigerator and closets were stocked with bottles that he gave away to homesick friends. Filipinos for miles around mourned when he got evicted from his apartment.

KINILAW is better known to Japanese food-eating Pinoys as raw fish sashimi. But to Filipino folk from Aparri to Jolo, it has been there forever.

In an archaelogical pit in Butuan, carbon dated to at least 1,000 years, they had excavated, together with the famed balanghai boat (now in the Cultural Center of the Philippines), "edible discards" like the remains of fish bones. These bear slanting blade marks-the same as those still found today on large yellowfin tuna sliced specifically for kinilaw in Butuan (Ed Alegre, "Inumang Pinoy").

Kinilaw applies to fish (such as tuna, dalag, pagi, dilis); crustaceans (such as shrimps, crabs and talangka); mollusks (such as oysters, sea urchins and clams); meats (such as deer, carabao, boar); other seafoods (like squid, octopus, seaweeds). All can be eaten raw with a souring agent-commonly vinegar, kalamansi, or dayap and ginger, pepper, garlic, onions, salt.

FIRE WATER: TUBA is extracted from coconut or nipa sap, drunk as is, or fermented. The ancient babaylan of Bohol offered tuba and food to appease the angry spirits.

LAMBANOG is brandy produced by boiling tuba over and over and distilled. It has five times the kick of beer, and its devotees claim that it can clear sinusitis and intestinal parasites.

Real drinkers prefer their lambanog straight-clear and transparent. Younger folk prefer a month-long lambanog marinade of raisins, fresh jackfruit, ginseng root (called gising gising) and even Juicy Fruit gum.

BASI. Wine made from sugarcane juice. The brandy distilled from nipa is called laksoy.

TAGAY or shot. Etiquette of drinking prescribes that one tagay be first poured on the ground for the spirits. To begin the round, the master of ceremonies (magtatagay) drinks the first shot. It is the same amount for every glassful.

Only one drinking glass is used by all. The person whose turn it is must empty the glass to the last drop. In Laguna and Quezon, women join these drinking bouts.

PULUTAN. (from "pulut," to pick). In the provinces, the pulutan or sumsuman that goes with the drinking is not specially prepared. It can be leftover ulam or peanuts and corniks from the corner store, and as wide in range as asusena (dogmeat) to wild mushrooms and locusts.